So I have a question for the "usual suspects", seasoned and savvy travelers that you are! Do you guys spend points on lower cat hotels or do you rather use on full-service nice properties?
We're going back to Orange County this summer for a friends/fam beach party, and I'm thinking of redeeming 80k points for a 5-nights stay at the Residence Inn in Fountain Valley/Huntington Beach. This is a cat4 property, and by affluent OC standards this is by no means a "nice" hotel, but it works for me! We've stayed there before when our home which is only a couple of miles away was being remodeled, and it was good, pretty close to our son's school and the hot breakfast wasn't bad at all, especially when we didn't have a kitchen! While I wish we could just go back to our house in HB, unfortunately it's rented out and I'm not too fond of crashing at other people's homes, so I'm thinking this would be a good use of points. I'm all for splurging on a beautiful full-service Marriott for special occasions, but as you can tell I'm more of a frugal traveler! To me, spending 80k points for 5 nights at a cat4 hotel is worth it, as I'd rather put the $1000 we're saving on hotel costs towards an enjoyable & fun beach party capped with a lovely bonfire after the sun sets! Your thoughts and recommendations will be appreciated!
I would. One factor you didn't mention that I consider is the earning rate of 5 points per dollar at Residence Inn instead of the usual 10 points per dollar.
Others will undoubted chime in on when it makes sense to spend points over dollars. I rarely do that sort of calculation. It does sound like you'll be getting good value for the points spent. For me, that's all that matters. Check out Should I pay cash, or use points.
bejacob has it right. 80K pts to save $1K works out to 1.25 cents per point and that's a good trade. The fact that the earning rate of 5 points per dollar at Residence Inn is icing on the cake.
I would always redeem 5 nights that costs $1000(inc taxes) on a cat 4 property redeeming 80,000 points. Indeed I'd consider a 100,000 point Cat 5 reasonable value at a saving of $1000. As others have remarked, it's especially gratifying to use them at a Residence Inn which only credits 5 points/$ when paying cash.
My minimum redemption target per night (inc taxes) goes
Cat 1 $75
Cat 2 $100
Cat 3 $150
Cat 4 $200
Cat 5 $250
Cat 6 $300
Cat 7 $350
Cat 8 $400
Cat 9 $450
In other words 1UScent per point. Note you can do better than these, popular times can see a redeemable cat 5 hotel room sell at $400/nt, a cat 9 at $700/nt.
If you've got hundreds of thousands of points a Marriott Travel package can be a good idea, I recently redeemed 360,000 points for first class return tickets UK to Miami and 7 nights in the Florida Keys. The cash price was $7,500 (inc taxes), a return of 2.1UScents per point.
More prosaically, last year I very happily redeemed 400,000 points on a family roadtrip staying at Marriotts in Ottawa, Albany, New York, Oakville and Toronto for a total of 13 room-nights worth $5,300 (inc taxes), a return of 1.3UScents per point. Your plan makes 1.2c/pt and I'd definitely redeem at that rate, no hesitation.
I'd say best bang for your point-buck will be Cat 1 and 2 hotels which usually end up at $100/nt inc taxes or more, theyre an easy place to redeem at a high value per point. Though wether you want to go there for leisure is a different question, not many couples find the Fairfield Inn overlooking the Chrysler Bolt factory a particularly romantic location!.
I love it how you guys are so knowledgeable figuring out these redemption values! Thanks brightlybob, your table of showing min redemption targets will be helpful to me for future trips. And we've just recently heard about the Marriott Travel packages, so we may be looking into it. We don't have tons of MR points, but we are flushed with AmEx points and Chase UR, which can be transferred to our Marriott accounts, but I do have a lot more to learn on this. Buy how lucky am I to have all of you guys as an excellent resource to learn from! Nothing like talking directly with Marriott points multi-millionaries!
Great list, Brightlybob.
I appreciate how you've broken this out by value. giving the points a value is hard sometimes because at times I'd rather save my cash. Other times, I tend to pay for hotels if it means I can meet one of the reward levels like buy two nights, get one free.
Also I try to use my free stays over the summer and winter and pay for the hotels in spring and fall generally when they offer promotions to boost points (although I'm not going to come anywhere close to the spring promotions, even the lowest one mentioned).
Point value is also hard to determine, in part, too because there's times where I feel like I am just getting showered with points. If I get a lot of extra points for one reason or another, like I've completed part of a promotion, I am kinder to myself when I use those and less strict about thinking of them in dollar terms and think about them in enjoyment terms.
Sometimes I spend 3 nights at a spring hills for 45,000pts or less, which can feel like a good value. But honestly, I'd rather spend 3 nights at Scrub Island, even if it means I drop all my points for the year. Value is important, but there comes a point in one's life where having a certain kind of experience takes it to a whole other level. Being able to choose between the two is fantastic because as it will become clear when reading, there's a lot of us here who use hotels both for work and vacation with distinct needs in each situation.
I think because there's so many opportunities to redeem and it's so easy, it's possible to ensure you get good value for your points. There's not much "point" to this hobby if you squander 45,000 points at the Cat9 Times Sq Marquis on a $230 night, better to spend the cash for the night and earn points than redeem so poorly.
However I do agree, there some really "big dogs" who spend so much time at Marriotts and score sooo many points that using them for what they want is more important than value. I guess if I was spending half my time in Marriotts on the bosses dime I'd think that way, but as I'm self employed and struggle to make 50 nights a year I don't.
I think 1UScent is a pretty good minimum value. It gives lots of options and also means you can view the program as providing a 15% rebate when you're spending your own money. That's important when booking and comparing the market.
Thank you, brightlybob, for your point redemption chart. I always struggle with when to use points vs cash; now I have a "cheat sheet" to consult. Unless there is a clear cut advantage, such as a 5 night redemption, we have tended to use cash and save/hoard our points. My husband and I have not yet retired.... I know the points devalue over time, but Im looking forward to having a large pile of points to use once we have more time (but less money) to travel.